Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WMW: The Freelance Fairy

I wish I could give credit where credit is due, but I can't remember where I first read about "the Freelance Fairy." It was in some book or blog written by a freelance writer, talking about the unpredictability of income when one works freelance.

It's true—you can't anticipate when new jobs are going to come in, or when exactly the payment for those jobs will arrive. The fabled Freelance Fairy was the sprite who brought in new work or a check in the mail whenever the writer was running low on cash.

When I prepared to leave my full-time job in January, Matt and I were prepared for the changes this new career move would bring for our income and our expenses (boo for higher health insurance rates, yay for using less gas!) But it's been interesting to adjust to the differences between being salaried and being freelance.

The most essential difference is just how directly work = money. On salary, you might have a really busy week that requires long hours, or you might be taking a week's vacation, but your paycheck still comes at the same time and for the same amount. As a freelancer, the more work you do, the more money you make. Period.

So if I wake up at 2 a.m. and can't get back to sleep, the thought, "well, might as well make some money," can legitimately enter my head, and I'll get up and do a couple hours' work, until I feel sleepy again. (I sleep pretty well, even with a four-year-old snuggled so close to me it feels like she's trying to crawl right into my skin, so that doesn't happen often.) One could do that as a salaried employee, but it wouldn't equate to a bigger paycheck, just maybe a lighter to-do list the next day.

I've been fortunate to continue doing a lot for my former employer, and being able to submit hours on a weekly basis, so I can count on having some income each week, as well as some steady work that always needs doing. Bigger projects that pay one flat fee are more the milieu of the Freelance Fairy, and pop up when you least expect them. I have had a constant string of big deadlines from May through, well, today (if I can knock this last bit out tonight!) but very little on the radar for the fall.

I'm excited about this for the moment, since Matt and I have a little getaway planned for the two of us and I'm looking forward to a light August, where I can ease up the pace just a little bit and do some writing. But given that more work = more money now, I have two competing fears going into my "light month": One, that a big, short-deadline job will come my way in the next couple weeks and I'll be tempted to take it even though I've really been needing and looking forward to this deadline-free time. And Two, that it won't. Or rather, that it won't come even after I've enjoyed my little vacation. What if my light fall stays light?

Given how suddenly the Freelance Fairy swoops in, and how she dive-bombed me repeatedly this spring, such that I've been in intense on-deadline mode for essentially three months straight, I feel pretty confident that she'll do some fly-bys in the coming months, but you never know. That's part of the challenge of this new adventure, and I'm loving every minute.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Full, Fun Weekend

We had such a full weekend, running from fun thing to fun thing. 

To start at the very beginning, I always try to finish up work early on Friday afternoons so I have some time for myself before Matt brings the kids home. Usually, I spend that time scrapbooking. (It's so tempting since my craft table is literally three feet from my work-desk—even more tempting than the neighborhood pool I overlook from my window!—but I can usually resist until Friday afternoons.)

I've realized lately, after a couple years of relying more and more on what they call "hybrid scrapbooking," i.e. the Project Life-type pages with the divided page protectors, that I miss doing full 12 x 12 layouts. It's great being able to get a lot of photos in easily and still do some embellishments with the divided pages, but while my 2010 and 2011 scrapbooks were a good mix of pages, 2012 only had a few artistic full-page layouts, and 2013 literally has zero. I've missed the greater creative outlet of designing a page from scratch. 

So, Friday afternoon I did a nice 12 x 12 layout with pics from the girls' swim lessons. It felt good :0)

And Saturday morning, we were back to said swim lessons! Week three out of four. Kate swam the whole length of the pool (with a back-floatation thing designed to keep them horizontal, rather than upright, like a vest). I love how she loves it! And Claire had fun too.

After grocery shopping on the way home (one of my favorite Saturday rituals—grocery shopping with the girls), we headed across the street to a birthday party for our new neighbor, turning two! I was so excited a couple months ago to see our newest neighbor had a child close to one of my girls' ages. (Another new neighbor on our street does too, but we haven't gotten to know them as well. It was great meeting a couple other neighborhood families with kids about this age at the party—they're better social connectors than we are, apparently! No surprise there—it stinks to be introverts, sometimes!)

Anyway, the party was adorable—turquoise, purple, lime green, and pink, with a flamingo motif—super cute, and I loved the puff balls hanging from the big tree in the backyard. Claire loved the veggie dip, and Kate helped the birthday girl open our gift.

And check out this cake! It was from Puffy Muffin, same place that did the bird's nest baby shower cake for my sister-in-law's shower a couple years ago. They do great work, and it was delicious, too.

Immediately after the party, (notice no one has had a nap in here—Kate never takes one anymore, and Claire refused to lay down, after only a brief catnap in the car on the way back from the grocery!) We drove down to the stables where my cousin was in from out of town to work out her horse before a show in Kentucky next week. We rarely see my aunt and cousin, and it was especially nice to see her "in her element." I've been hearing about and seeing pictures from her riding competitions for years, so it was fun to see them and meet her horse.

The kids were a little timid (and tired) but it was a neat experience for them. (By the way, Mom, here's my new haircut. I like it!)

Sunday was a great day at church, since it was the first day with screens in our traditional worship service! We've joined the 21st century--yippee! There was a great energy in the room, a friend and I sang "Hallelujah," by Leonard Cohen, and Matt preached a good message about the Gerasene Demoniac. 

After church, that friend and her daughter, less than a year older than Kate, joined us at the zoo. The carousel was a big hit, as always, and we tried out the Lorikeet Landing experience for the first time—an open aviary where you can feed and get up close with all these beautiful, colorful birds.

 Matt had three on his arm at one point, and got a few bites as they (a) fought each other for the nectar and (b) tried to see if his shirt was edible.
Kate was a little more timid after hearing Daddy say they were biting him.
And Claire mostly ignored the birds and hung out by the little waterfall in there, pretending she was in Hawaii, it looks like.

It's good to be zoo members because it doesn't matter if you only have time for a few animals, as we all had to head straight back to church for the evening casual service, The Road. (Since I had my camera in the diaper bag, anyway, from the zoo, I distracted Matt by snapping one photo during his sermon—at the moment the Brick Testament image of the naked demoniac was on the screen, of course :0)

Extra incentive to join us at The Road, if you've never tried it: we always have cookies afterwards, and sometimes (like last night!) awesome, super-sugary cupcakes. Claire screamed whenever I tried to take a bite of hers.

 So that was our fun weekend. My feet hurt by last night. Hope you had a nice weekend too!

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Assistant Camera-Girl

 I'm definitely guilty sometimes of overdoing it on pictures. If your husband rolls his eyes when you grab the camera or says things like "I require my food unphotographed," you know you might be going overboard. So sometimes I very deliberately leave the camera at home when we go to the zoo or whatnot, and I've apparently been doing a good job of it lately, because I hardly have any photos from the month of July!

I took plenty of photos on the Fourth of July, and then Matt's mom took some great ones at the girls' swim lessons last week, but overall, I've been more chill in my documentation this month. BUT, I did finally upload the photos from Kate's little camera, which was no longer taking pics because of the 14-months or so of photos still on it.

Here's a sampling of what I found from my little assistant photographer. It was a nice trip down memory lane.

Claire with her six-month sticker on (May 1, 2012)

A remarkably clear and well-composed shot of the grocery's meat department.

Our friend Lisa, who visited from California Memorial Day weekend 2012.

Nala and sweet, sun-bonneted Baby Claire

Popi showing off his juggling skills.

The inevitable aftermath of children watching someone juggle: throwing balls into the air.

Kate's backseat traveling companion

Unhappy Sister at approximately one year old

Christmas 2012 (it will be here again before we know it!)
Kate even took her camera to school one day, which I am grateful for, because we actually have a pic of her 4-year-old class. I keep meaning to go take some pictures of the girls in their classrooms with their school friends, but since Matt does most of the drop-off and pick-up, I don't get over there on school days very much!
I think on our next fun family outing, I should leave the camera at home and let Kate be lead photographer!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Swim Lessons

Ever since we moved into our house two years ago, with the neighborhood pool just beyond our backyard, we've intended to get Kate some swimming lessons, but it just never happened. I do get nervous when my kids are in and around the water, especially because they are so brave.

From her first experiences in pools, Kate generally shunned her baby float, preferring just to lunge forward into the water unencumbered. She's had floats and vests she's liked more in recent years, gradually getting more independent, but doesn't know how to hold her breath or anything. And now that Claire is joining her sister in throwing caution to the wind, my anxiety when we're at the pool (especially if it's just one parent with both girls) has increased.

So, we finally bit the bullet and rejoined the Y (Matt has been a member for a while, but I haven't since before Kate was born) and found that there are baby classes as well as preschool and older kid classes! We signed up for a four-week session and have classes for both girls each Saturday morning!

Claire's is first and is a parent/child class, so I'm in the water with her and all the other parents and babies/toddlers (ages 6-36 months), moving her around as we sing songs and rhymes. Claire seems to enjoy it, especially the "tick-tock" of bobbing back and forth to get them used to having their ears wet, and learning how to climb out of a pool on their own ("elbow-elbow-tummy-knee"), then jumping back in ONLY when Mommy counts 1-2-3-JUMP! (Important for kids to learn not to jump in when their grown-up is not ready!)

Kate has been SO excited about her swim lessons, she was doing her own "swim lessons" in the baby pool earlier this summer, practicing going underwater with her goggles on and all. We worried she would get nervous when she was actually there with the other kids, teachers, noise, and all that, but she LOVED it, right from the start.

After the first lesson and for the whole week following, we heard this litany:
"I've got church day, then one school day, two school days, three school days, four school days, five school days, THEN MY NEXT SWIMMING LESSON!"

"Or, you could just say, 'Next Saturday,'" I told her.
"Is that the same thing?"

Kate's class is ages 3-5, with three teachers, and they split them up by age, so with only one other four-year-old, Kate basically has a semi-private lesson. The teacher just raved about how well Kate was doing, saying it was obvious she is in the water regularly and that she does either gymnastics or ballet (good sense of her own body). She couldn't wait to practice kicking and blowing bubbles at the neighborhood pool during the week.

We had the second lesson this past Saturday, and Granna got to come to watch (and take these pictures for me!) I worked out during most of Kate's lesson, but came back in just in time to see her dive down to the bottom (with the teacher's help) and pick up a ring off the bottom of the pool!

Kate can't wait until Saturday rolls around again—she'll be so sad when swim lessons are over!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Who Wore It Best?

If you ever pick up an US magazine in the dentist's office (or maybe you actually subscribe—I'm not judging), and checked out the "Who Wore It Best?" celebrity page, you know people love to compare how the world's most beautiful people looked in the same fashions.

Well, now that we've got 20 months of hand-me-downs under our belt in the Kelley house, I thought it would be fun to compare how the most beautiful girls in Matt's and my world have looked in the same item of clothing.


First up, Kate in a Target impulse buy I just couldn't resist. Three years later, Claire pairs the festive dress with a bright balloon for Mommy's birthday soiree a couple weeks ago. Try not to let Kate's curls sway your vote too much!

 Next, Kate is nonchalant in a polka dot Gymboree swimsuit. Claire makes a bold statement with purple star sunglasses leftover from big sister's fourth birthday party.

 Kate goes sporty with a long sleeve onesie under her Carter's polo dress for St. Patrick's Day 2010, never forgetting the matching pacifier clip. Claire loses the undershirt but still needs tights on St. Pat's 2013, when she enjoyed a cookie and sippy on a kneeler after The Road that Sunday night.

 You can't go wrong with fleecy footie jammies on a cold winter night.

 Kate is the star of the show at her first birthday party, wearing a plaid Gymboree jumper. Claire agrees that plaid was very hot this year, cooling off in the refrigerator at 15 months.

This Gymboree jumper is one of the few things I paid full price for, and it's still such a favorite that I bought it in 3T off eBay so Kate could enjoy it again and they could match!

 Another Gymboree favorite. Love it. Love green. Love polka dots. Love Gymboree. Love these gorgeous girls!

 In the same sweet Strausburg playset (a gift from my aunt) at two months. They looked more different at this age, as Claire was so petite before she started solids! 

 Who wore her birthday suit best? Please don't answer that—Daddy will freak out!

Bonus: a four-way competition. The 1951 heirloom dress. Who wore it best? 
My mom in 1952, Me in 1982, Kate in 2009, or Claire in 2012?

Now that Kate is wearing some of my hand-me-downs (smocked Polly Flinders from 1985!) I might need to do another round comparing me and Kate in those dresses that I'm shocked she's willing to wear!

So, did you wear hand-me-downs as a kid? And, disregarding my terrible laundry skills rendering Claire at a disadvantage, which of my darlings seems to wear these things best?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Long, Rainy, Patriotic Birthday Weekend

Like much of the south and midwest, we had a very rainy Fourth here in Nashville. It started Wednesday night when we were out to dinner with my parents, in town for my birthday (which is also the Fourth—such a fun birthday to have), and barely stopped until Sunday morning. Our plans for a holiday spent poolside, followed by an outdoor concert and fireworks show at a local park were totally blown to bits.

So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I got out every red, white, and blue craft supply I had, covered the dining room table with a thick picnic tablecloth, and let the girls go to town.

Claire insisted on wearing her bathing suit most of the day—bummed about the pool, I guess :0) but she had fun making handprint fireworks!

Kate did a handprint flag, then drew and colored a chili pepper (??) and then cut out a gazillion teeny stars from some scrapbook paper I had. I made tissue-paper fireworks and a pinwheel.

Later, all the family folks who had planned to go to the concert and fireworks came over to our house for an indoor picnic and birthday celebration.

Matt's mom's birthday is the fifth, so we often celebrate her as well.She's been wanting to do more scrapbooking, so I turned her on to Project Life! (Here I am animatedly explaining the card kits and all :0)

And I've been wanting to do some crafty sewing, so my in-laws equipped me to do that and more with this nice sewing machine! My parents gave me some fabulous organization pieces for my home office, so I'll share that once it's all put together. (My craft room and office are one and the same, so that room is a bit of a mess right now!)
 Rainy or not, my birthday long weekend is always a fun time!


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